Manchester University
Oak Leaves

March 31, 2017


Interview with Dr. Case.
Graphic by Tyler Roebuck

COMM Course Asks Students to Stop Using Their Words

Tanner Edge 

The Department of Communication Studies has decided to introduce a new course starting the fall of 2018. This course will be called Mastery of Gestures with its focus on understanding written language and gestures and how to effectively use the nonverbal communication style.
Communication studies students will be able to select this course as an elective course to help them reach their minimum of 18 elective classes for the major. During this class, students as well as the professor will only be communicating via text messaging, email, writing on the board and gestures. Four communication professors will teach this course: Judd Case, Michelle Calka, Mary Lahman and Tim McKenna-Buchanan. “We all know that the purest form of communication is silence, and we want this class to feel like the vacuum of space,” Case said. “We’ll all be together and there will be an overpowering blankness.” 

The students will still be attending class each day but will have a different professor each time. “This is a great way for us to get everyone involved in a class that we know will be challenging and really understand how all communication styles are important,” Lahman said. “The beauty of this course is that when tempers flare or someone is frustrated, nobody will be able to verbally attack another student while in the classroom! 

“It will discourage abusive language through social media, texting, and emails as well,” she added. This is important in creating a positive atmosphere in and out of a classroom environment. 

When a professor is teaching, the students will be encouraged to watch intensely for body gestures that the professor uses. This is an exciting form of teaching for professor Calka. “I just can’t wait to teach a class where it looks like we’re all playing charades together for a little over an hour,” Calka said. “We professors will have to bring a change of clothes after teaching certain topics such as nonverbal gestures, posture, along with movement and body position.”

While Calka did mention three types of nonverbal teaching topics, there are plenty more to consider during this course. The history of nonverbal communication will be covered during this course as well as its importance. Some other factors in nonverbal communication are kinesics, proxemics, haptics, vocalics, artifacts and chronemics. “These are important factors to cover,” Professor McKenna-Buchanan said. “Proxemics will be my favorite subject to teach during this course. Just think, I can write what the definitions are on the board then get in front of a student and frantically flap my arms to demonstrate what the correct and incorrect ways of using distance and proxemics are. I cannot wait to see the funny facial expressions on my students’ faces!”
Due to the fact that this could potentially be a stressful class for students who like to talk a lot, the professors are requesting that students who are considering taking this course also consider the repercussions that may come from it. This course will be strictly conducted through written language and gestures with no exceptions whatsoever. “We really want the students to get the full effect of this style of communication so what better way than to ban verbal communication from the class,” Case said. “We want this to change the way people view the types of communication and create an appreciation for all of the styles.”